Last week my parents bought me an early birthday present. Something which I absolutely love and have been on about for a while now... Guinea pigs! Yes, I am so lucky to have been bought two beautiful little guinea pigs! They are super cute and I love them so much. I am so grateful to my parents for buying me these wonderful bundles of fluff! They are both girls and are in fact sisters. I named them Annie and Alice.
So, because of the recent additions to the family I have decided to give you some guinea pig tips! Let's get started!
Things you need to consider before buying the guinea pigs:
- Have you thought about the future?
Guinea pigs can live for up to 5 to 6 years so you need to be sure that you can fully commit to caring for them for their whole lives.
- Do you have time for guinea pigs?
Caring for guinea pigs takes up a lot of time each day as they will need cleaning out, feeding, grooming and interacting with. You will need to clean their entire home thoroughly with a hutch disinfectant at least once a week.
- Do you have enough space for guinea pigs?
Your guinea pigs' home will take up a large area of your house and/or garden as the minimum suggested home size for two guinea pigs is about 120cm x 45cm x 40cm.
- Can you afford guinea pigs?
You need to consider the costs of yearly veterinary checks, possible neutering (for males), other veterinary fees, housing, holiday care, food, bedding and toys, for two or more guinea pigs.
- What will you do when you go on holiday?
Guinea pigs get stressed by travelling and new surroundings so prefer to stay in their home while you are away. You will need to find a trustworthy and competent person to visit your house and look after you guinea pigs every day.
- Somewhere suitable to live.
Guinea pigs need a home consisting of a large shelter and exercise area, which should be strong and secure, draught-free, well ventilated and receive natural light. As I said earlier, the minimun suggested home size for two guinea pigs is about 120cm x 45cm x 40cm. It must be raised off the ground slightly to keep the floor dry and improve ventilation. You will need to cover the bottom on the shelter with a thick layer of newspaper, paper-based litter or dust-free woodflakes, and fill the bedroom areas with plenty of hay. You can keep your guinea pigs outside or inside, however if they are outside then you will need to bring them inside your home, a shed or a garage where it is warm in the winter. However, never put your guinea pigs in a used garage as the exhaust fumes from your vehicle can be very dangerous.
- A proper diet, including fresh water.
Guinea pigs need a balanced diet which is high in fibre. They cannot produce their own vitamin C so their diet must provide this too. Hay and grass should be the majority of your guinea pigs' diet. Good quality, fresh, dust-free hay must always be available to your guinea pigs. Specialist, vitamin C enriched guinea pig foods should be fed in small, measured amount daily. You can buy guinea pig nuggets which contain all the vitamin C that they will need. You will also need to regularly feed your guinea pigs fresh, clean fruit and vegetables such as: apples, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, parsnip, pears and spinach. They can also be fed wild plants such as: dandelion, plantain, chickweed and knapweed, however do not take these from busy roadsides. Guinea pigs also need fresh water daily in heavy based bowls or bottles.
- The ability to express normal behavior.
Grazing and exercise are important and guinea pigs should not be left in their hutch all the time. You will need to buy a run or grazing arc which allows guinea pigs to graze. The run/grazing arc must be able to move around the garden as the grass in eaten. You must never put the guinea pigs down on grass which in frosty or damp. In winter, a playpen containing logs, hay, boxes, drainpipes and rock piles can be created to provide exercise.
- To be housed with or apart from other animals.
Guinea pigs are very social animals so they are usually happiest when living with at least one compatible guinea pig. Guinea pigs should not live with rabbits because they both have different diets and communicate in different ways. Rabbits can bully or injure guinea pigs, and can pass diseases on to them. If you have another pet, such as a dog or cat, you will need to be very careful, especially if you are keeping the guinea pigs in the house. To start with the other animal should meet the guinea pigs when they are safely in the hutch/cage. Repeat this exercise many times until the other animal loses interest in the guinea pigs. But, remember, you should never allow other pets near without supervision.
- Protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease.
All pets can carry diseases, some of which can pass to people. Always clean your hands after handling or feeding the guinea pigs and after cleaning their home. You will need to perform regular health checks on your guinea pigs which will help you pick up on the early signs of ill health. If you notice anything abnormal about your guinea pigs when performing these checks, take action quickly to treat ailments before they become too serious. Guinea pigs are very good at disguising signs of illness and pain, so familiarity with your guinea pigs is vital.
I hope that these tips have helped you if you are deciding whether or not to get guinea pigs or if you are just interested in how to care for them. Hopefully, you have enjoyed this post and are looking forward to my Disney post on Tuesday.